Nanako Yukishiro is a student with an odd quirk: she “speaks” only by writing senryuu (a type of haiku, or poem with lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables, focused on humor, human emotions and experiences). This often gives her difficulty in school, such as when she doesn’t understand problems in class or when she needs to order lunch at the cafeteria. However, she generally enjoys her school life, especially her time in the Literature Club.
Nanako’s friend, clubmate, and possible crush is Eiji Busunuma, a boy with a scary face and a reputation as a delinquent. However, he is in fact quite softhearted, shares Nanako’s interest in poetry, and wants to make friends. With the help of Amane, the fairly normal Literature Club president, the two friends write senryuu with the themes of “self-introduction” and “April”. Eiji’s poems are either too blunt or too violent, while Nanako’s are too goofy. Eiji explains that he became interested in senryuu by using them to describe fights he had with other people, but he hopes to be able to write more elegant poems someday.
In the second episode, the club tries to write poems about Eiji’s likeable qualities, but they all can only come up with the same one: he’s generous when sharing food. We’re also introduced to Eiji’s caring but slightly overprotective childhood friend / honorary big sister, Koto. Later, Nanako worries that her large appetite will cause her to gain weight. Koto and Amane are supportive and help her efforts to diet and exercise, believing she is doing it to impress Eiji. The two older girls get closer in the process, although Koto realizes that she may have romantic feelings for Eiji as well.
Senryuu Shoujo doesn’t have a complex premise, but, in my opinion, it doesn’t really need one. The “characters community primarily via poetry” isn’t quite enough of a twist on the “school life / club activities” genre to make it feel fresh or new, but the show is still a pleasant overall watching experience. At 12 minutes per episode, it doesn’t overstay its welcome, and each episode strives to blend humor and jokes with cute moments.
Hands down, what makes the show anything other than another forgettable short is its two lead characters. Nanako and Eiji are downright adorable from their designs to their personalities to their friendly relationship and (what seems to be a) blossoming mutual crush. The only thing close to a “plot” that this show has is Eiji’s efforts to become more likeable at school and diminish his scary reputation through poetry, which is genuinely heartwarming. He’s a sweet guy who loves his family, his friends, and small animals, and his blunt, fumbling attempts at poetry are endearing to watch.
Meanwhile, Nanako’s awkward demeanor provides the primary source of humor – although, luckily, there’s not too much of a reliance on the “cringe” humor that seems so common today. I even found myself laughing out loud at a few of the jokes – especially Nanako’s commitment to her poetry being so great that she doesn’t ask the cafeteria worker to remove onions (which she hates) from her meal, or her turning the kanji character for “spring” into a goofy happy face.
Unfortunately, it’s not all perfection in the land of poems and twice-shy romance. Some jokes fall flat (such as Nanako writing a poem about Amane’s measurements), the animation is simplistic and fairly static, and I’m not the biggest fan of Koto – she feels like an attempt to make the bizarrely popular “sister-complex” character without having her be Eiji’s biological sister. The hints of the a love triangle at the end of episode 2 nearly had me groaning aloud in dread. I’d much rather see Koto as the supportive friend who helps Nanako and Eiji get together, like she seemed to be when she was helping Nanako exercise, rather than a rival for Eiji’s affections. (Maybe she could instead pursue Amane, who seemed quite drawn to her during their interactions throughout the second episode.)
It’s a cute show, and I could see myself watching it when I want to relax or calm down, but I don’t think there will be enough engaging content to make it suitable for weekly reviews. Maybe I’ll keep up with it and do a batch review / impression at the end of the season? For now, though, I give this surprisingly pleasant experience this many Dios: